Two questions for this week’s mailbag, both stemming from posts this week.
Q: Why the hate for Bickel? You tweeted he’s probably the whipping boy, but I don’t know why you feel that way.
Yes, I did tweet that Stu Bickel is likely to be the whipping boy this year. But to be clear, we don’t necessarily agree with having any one particular whipping boy. It just so happens that Bickel has been horrid this year, and his struggles extend to last year during the playoffs as well. Bickel has found himself out of position more times than we can remember, and his skating isn’t where it needs to be for the NHL level. But that doesn’t make him a whipping boy, that just makes him a matchup defenseman. People will look to him as a whipping boy because he was played at forward while Chris Kreider sat as a “healthy scratch.” In fact, Kreider has an ankle injury. Regardless, unless Bickel turns this around, he may find himself as the whipping boy.
Q: What is with the powerplay? They don’t move at all.
Well, Chris covered the powerplay a little while back, and Suit has an entire post dedicated to powerplay strategies. Basically, the Rangers run an umbrella powerplay, which is designed to get the puck to the point for shots. Naturally, the Rangers aren’t shooting as often as most would like, and instead are having their passes intercepted and cleared. While the Rangers are more static than others on the powerplay, the umbrella strategy doesn’t cycle players as much as the overload strategy, which is where you see the funnel. That said, a static powerplay is incredibly easy to defend, and the Rangers have too much skill to sit around. There needs to be more movement to open up shooting lanes. It’s worth noting that Torts has always had a successful powerplay wherever he has gone, except the Rangers. It’s also worth noting that Sully runs the powerplay, not Torts. Read into that if you want. Or don’t. Up to you.